Sunday, 10 January 2016

Happy New Year

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer." Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

We started this brave new year in Oscar's first visit to New Zealand, exactly ten years after our first visit on a belated honeymoon after a surprise marriage and difficult first year overseas. On that quiet road trip around the South Island, we walked windy hillsides and sat on rocky beaches and paddled blue waters and slowly talked about the lives ahead: Where we'd move, what we'd do, how we'd never have kids. We had a lot of being time. Just us time. Silent time to ponder what would be our normal. And then ten years later we had a trip of contrasts with a rowdy five year old sidekick we couldn't imagine living without helping guide us around the North Island visiting housefuls friends we'd made on three different continents in the last strange decade. Loud children bounced on trampolines and ran down trails and filled tables at dinnertime. Ice cream was eaten by the bucketful. It felt good. It felt normal. 

Our normal has been the subject of great discussion at home lately. Our dear son doesn't want to ride a bike or wear shoes, but he does want to learn to surf and rock climb and build a fortress in Minecraft. Is this okay? Our retirement system is not a solid 401K but is a hodgepodge of plans and savings and unorthodox choices. Is this okay? As we both face 40 in the coming months we are finding our social lives whittled to a handful of lifers that we feel just as close to whether they live on our street or 10,000 miles away. Is this okay? 

"God with one to another, we ask that you interrupt our isolation." Nadia Bolz Weber prayed this in one of her sermons recently, and it struck me. My isolation was interrupted loudly by a surprise move to Asia 11 and a half years ago. And then a year later, a surprise marriage. And then five years later a surprise boy-child. And now, my isolation is filled with a tentative business and friends I didn't know I'd make and jobs I didn't think I'd have and a looming but also wonder-filling unknown of what comes next. Normal has never been what I thought it would be, and it has turned out okay. It has been ridiculously challenging at times, and I have been unfairly unkind to it, but it has been okay.

So new year, we sit in our questions and our community and we marvel. We marvel at what is to come and what answers we will live---even if we don't know that's what is unfolding and even if we fight against it (rather angrily) sometimes. Here's to good art, and good writing, and good travels, and good company, and good intentions. And to letting our isolation be interrupted and our normal be okay.

And I'll interrupt this a-bit-too-dreamy-self-centered-sort-of-like-some-of-the-follow-your-bliss-blogs-I-make-fun-of-blog post to mention the lack of art I did in the last two weeks but the art I deeply admired. On our New Zealand travels I fell in love with Jane Galloway:
And all the interpretations of the pohutukawa tree:

Now it's time to return to one's grounded senses and do something really normal like wash some dishes and then step on a Lego. It's all part of the journey to what comes next. Which will probably be a cup of tea and a flippant podcast and worrying over whether or not the loud five-year-old ate his school lunch. Happy New Year.

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